Wednesday 14 August 2013

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Over the course of the last few years, for various reasons, I’ve greatly reduced the amount of time I spend playing videogames. Even when I do play them, I tend to prefer handheld consoles because they’re more suitable for quick sessions in between other activities, for example while waiting in line at the post office.

Lately I’ve started using my smartphone for gaming more and more. While skeptical at first, I’ve since come to realize that there are plenty of really good games you can enjoy on this class of devices.

Unfortunately, it looks like the majority of mobile game developers are just trying to make a quick buck: finding a single outstanding title often requires trying a bunch of terrible games first. That’s why I’ve decided to recommend a few games that I’ve enjoyed, in the hope that you’ll enjoy them as much as I have.

Mobile Game Recommendation: Aidinia, An Epic Adventure!

Aidinia is an RPG, and it both looks and plays like a NES or GameBoy Color game. The random battles are turn based, one against one: there is basically no depth to the battle system, and as long as you keep yourself healed using either magic or items you can defeat basically any enemy you’ll encounter during your journey.

That doesn’t mean that beating the game is a breeze, though. Random encounters are very frequent and your inventory is limited to six slots, three of which are taken by your equipment, so you can expect to return to the nearest town quite often in order to resupply. Safely getting to the end of some dungeons requires quite a bit of leveling, too.

One thing I find very interesting is that some of the cut–corner measures used by the one man development team behind Aidinia mirror perfectly those employed in the NES days to overcome hardware limitations: for example, about two thirds of the enemies are simple palette swaps. I like the idea that, as triple A games become more complex and expensive, a single passionate individual has all the tools needed to build a game that keeps such an important legacy going.

The enemy design is actually quite well done, the highlight being the creature called Gentleworm: a worm sporting a mustache, a monocle and a top hat. How can you not love that? The hero and NPCs are cute and charming, and the music is pretty good too.

The control scheme is, once again, very simple: you get a D–pad and two buttons, basically what the GameBoy had. You are restricted to portrait orientation; while a landscape mode would have been nice, this arrangement works well enough.

As far as the amount of content is concerned, you–ll get to explore four dungeons, each guarded by a boss, and two or three smaller caves. The overworld map is pretty big, but there–s not much going on there, and in fact it–s sometimes easy to get lost due to the lack of reference points: an overview map would have been a nice addition. Overall, it took me about five hours to get to the credits, which for a game you–re often going to play in ten minutes sessions is not bad.

In conclusion, if you like old–school RPGs, you–re probably going to like Aidinia as well. There is nothing in this game you haven–t seen before, but sometimes more of the same is exactly what you–re looking for.

You can get Aidinia, An Epic Adventure! on Google Play for €0.75. A free demo is available as well.